The Three C’s of a Modern Italian Kitchen Island

Modern Italian Kitchen Island The modern Italian kitchen resembles restaurant kitchens in many respects.  For example, stainless steel is often used, and the designs are minimalist and sleek.  The island is the hub where all parts of the kitchen’s working zone are accessible at any time.

Islands work well in both large and small kitchens.  Well-designed modern Italian kitchens are so beautiful, that they often look amazing even when combined with a living and/or dining room.

When selecting the island for your modern Italian kitchen, consider these three C’s:

Convenience- How you will use your island in your kitchen once it is remodeled?  While all parts of the kitchen’s working zone can be placed within the island, you may only select a few elements based on your family’s preferences and lifestyle.

For example, if you love the fact that your kitchen sink is currently under a window, you may want to omit it from the island; especially since rearranging pipes and plumbing can be costly.  If you have young children at home, you may refrain from placing the stovetop within the island for fear that they may reach over from a stool and burn themselves.

For most people, the working zone is the center of the kitchen so it is ideal to contain the oven, a sink and even a chest of drawers within the island.

Color- A design trend of recent years has been to select an island’s finishes that are different than the rest of the kitchen’s cabinetry.  While the color and finishes of the island can be different than the rest of the kitchen, they should complement each other.

A contrasting combination between colors, for example white and blue, or black and red, has become very popular.  The use of light colors in the contrasting combination will create an airy sense of freshness.  The use of warm colors will prevent the space from appearing cold and dreary.

Community- The island will be a place where family and friends gather often, so make it comfortable.  Choose bar stools with high backs on them for maximum comfort.

Many of today’s islands look like stunning furnishings in kitchens large and small.  They offer conveniences that will make preparing meals easier than ever.

By selecting the right one, you will experience joy not only when passing your favorite recipes down from generation to generation, but just by sharing a conversation and cocktail with a dear friend.

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Contemporary Euro-Design Tips for Creating Your Dream Bathroom

Berloni America Bathroom product - Integrali+ Tired of your old bathroom and want to give it a more modern look, inspired by European design? Bathrooms today are not just utility spaces for personal hygiene; they’re private spas where the mind and body can relax after a challenging day. Amid the soft sound of water and the peaceful aroma of your favorite bubble bath, this is where dreams are born.

There’s nothing quite like the experience of stepping into the serenity of a European inspired bathroom, especially when it’s part of your home. Here are some amazing bathroom designs inspired by contemporary European design and timeless style.

Sleek bathroom showers and tubs 

Your bathroom design starts with an overhaul of your current bathtub and shower. European bathing areas are formed from simple lines, in rich stones, marble and tile. From ceilings to floors, your contemporary bathroom takes on a seamless look that makes this space feel larger than life. The addition of water-saving, rain showerheads and steam-free glass doors provide a beautiful finished look.

Light infused cabinets and counters

The hallmark of contemporary European design in the bathroom are sleek, light countertops, bathroom cabinets and closets that glide easily. You’ll find many styles that provide over-sized storage and an ease of care in your bathroom. Add overhead lighting or bring in natural sunshine for a clean look that lasts years.

Chrome and glass bathroom fixtures 

Along with cabinets and counters that bring more light into contemporary bathrooms, the fixtures used in your new space should also blend in well. Use modern chrome faucets and handles, with shelving made of recycled glass and chrome. You’ll find many ways excuses to keep them looking shiny and new.

Out of the ordinary vanities and sinks 

One of the best features of the contemporary European bathroom design is the wide range of beautiful vanities and sinks available. From clear glass to deep natural shades in glass and ceramic bowls and basins, sinks can be matched to your personal style. Vanities are suspended on walls and accompanied by oversized mirrors to create a dreamy look.

Modern sitting and dressing areas

Contemporary designs in today’s bathrooms are lending towards an extension of the bedroom instead of a separate space. Therefore, crafting a bathroom allows you to add in a modern sitting area that includes soft seating and generous closet space. Dressing areas, complete with technology enhancements, such as built in flat screens and Wi-Fi are the perfect accompaniment for the individual on the go.

Bright patterns and contemporary colors

The bathroom doesn’t have to be a dull environment. Instead, modern bathroom design incorporates dashes of bold colors and patterns that inspire one aesthetically. Using artwork and bathroom linens, your dream bathroom can be personalized to your style and your budget.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America—leaders in modern Italian kitchen remodeling and European bathroom design elements.  We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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Consider the Ideal Use of Your Kitchen in Addition to Decor

family in kitchenOnce you decide to remodel the heart of the home, be sure to consider the optimization of you and your family’s needs in addition to the aesthetics. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Americans whip up meals faster than residents of any other country: 30 minutes total.  The actual design of your dream kitchen can help you make the most of those minutes.

Each family is different.  By answering the following questions, you’ll ensure that your particular family’s needs are met and your kitchen dreams come true:

How will your family members use the new kitchen?  While today’s open concept designs are sleek and streamlined, many contain open shelving which could prove disastrous if you have young children at home.  Shelves are certainly ideal for displaying your favorite things: photos, vases, cookbooks, etc. However they should be high so that a new walker or toddler cannot climb them and risk falling- or getting into things you wish they would not.  If you or your spouse works from home, considering hiding electrical outlets inside of cabinets or selecting drawers vs. shelved cabinets in which to store file folders.  There are many options available to provide flexible work spaces within the kitchen and to keep counter-tops clutter free.

Is there anything you wish to hide?  If you love using your blender, convection toaster oven, food processor and Espresso machine, but are not fond of looking at them, have garage doors installed.  Appliances remain plugged in and out-of-sight until you actually need to use them.  When preparing meals, simply lift the garage door, pull the appliance out and get to work!  If it annoys you to see your family’s mobile phone chargers, iPad, hand blender, etc. plugged into the wall, have the electrical outlets installed within the actual cabinet.  No worries; they’ll still get charged behind closed doors and you won’t have to stare at nests of cords.

How will you use your kitchen to entertain?  Many people are opting for larger, eat-in kitchens vs. a separate formal dining room to combine smaller, separate spaces or simply because the open-flow concept has become so popular.  If you like to serve your meals to guests buffet-style, consider if you would prefer to arrange the meal on an island or a separate buffet, away from the main workspace.  It may seem awkward to serve food on an island if the stove or sink is built into it because of messes which occur during food preparation.  You may want to store and display wine and cocktail glass in cabinets with glass doors if you tend to tell guests to ‘help themselves’ vs. making them open every cabinet door searching for the right glass.

No matter what, your kitchen renovation should be the result of your very own family’s needs!   By considering these questions, you’ll ensure that your new kitchen will be a dream come true vs. a dangerous or cluttered nightmare.

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The Top 7 Mistakes People Make in Kitchen Design

Creating a masterful design for a kitchen often comes from the minds of homeowners who envision something better. The kitchen is the center of most homes and therefore it can add a tremendous amount of value to give it an update. Popular television shows and magazines make it seem so easy to redesign a kitchen, with the latest in kitchen appliances, kitchen building and décor materials. Yet, very often things go terribly wrong when an inexperienced homeowner attempts to design a new kitchen. Here is a list of the top kitchen design mistakes that people make, that can ruin a good kitchen, with advice on how to avoid them.

Lack of a design layout – One of the biggest problems with re-doing your own kitchen is not understanding the golden rule of kitchen design  - the triangle layout. Each kitchen is comprised of three important elements that include the sink, stove and refrigerator, which should be positioned with the least amount of obstruction. Unfortunately, too many homeowners focus on their counters and cabinets and forget about where they plan to have these appliances, turning their kitchen into chaos.

Covering up structural faults – As part of any kitchen design process, most people will start tearing out certain elements of their kitchen. In doing so, they may discover problems with the walls, the floors, electrical wiring, plumbing, and other structural features of their kitchen. An inexperienced home designer will just cover them up, which can be a big mistake that can cause damage later on. A quality home designer will recommend repair of these items before laying the foundation of a new kitchen.

Forgetting traffic flow of the kitchen – Depending on your lifestyle, the kitchen can be the hub of activity for your family and friends. Being able to walk through the kitchen and get to the activities needed is critical to the best contemporary kitchen design. A mistake often made is forgetting to map out the traffic areas when planning a new kitchen design; an oversight that causes years of frustration.

The wrong storage approach – In many homes, particularly those that are small, the kitchen is also not roomy enough for storing necessities. A mistake that do-it-yourselfers often make is just trying to add some more shelves to a random wall or building a standalone pantry. This doesn’t fit in well with any kitchen, and could put a strain on the walls of the kitchen. Instead, consult with a kitchen design firm to build cabinets and storage for your kitchen that is beautiful and functional.

Using poor quality materials  - Designing a kitchen can be a costly venture for most, but it’s worth the investment as it can raise a home’s value by as much as 20 percent when handled by a contemporary kitchen design firm. However, if you try to cut corners by using cheap materials, the kitchen will look bad and your home’s value will drop. Use durable kitchen materials that are sustainable and will make your home look great.

Inadequate countertops – Every kitchen needs to have enough countertops to provide ample cooking and entertaining space. Most kitchens in older homes and apartments don’t have enough countertops, therefore the homeowner may just add new ones overtop the old counters. But this doesn’t make the kitchen better, it just perpetuates a bad experience in the kitchen. Instead, have a kitchen designer create an island countertop to expand the usable space for your kitchen.

Lack of lighting options – Kitchens of today are spaces where both natural and electric light shine, creating a focal point for the home. Many homeowners forget this, and opt for tiny ceiling lights instead of opening up the space and using natural lighting and enhanced surface lights. Hire a professional kitchen designer to provide contemporary lighting styles that will make your kitchen more illuminated.

As you begin to plan for the redesign of your modern kitchen, be sure to call on the professionals at Berloni America for support.


Conquering Kitchen Clutter

kitchen clutter, kitchen designThe kitchen is typically the most frequently visited room in the house. As a result, it is often also the most cluttered. If this describes your kitchen, don’t despair! Here are a few simple steps from your friends at Berloni America that you can take to organize your kitchen and put everything right where you need it: Sort it or toss it — Chances are, much of your clutter comes from keeping things at hand that aren’t really essential to the day-to-day functioning of your kitchen. Start by cleaning out your cabinets and drawers of gadgets you hardly ever use. (i.e. that hard-boiled egg cooker and hamburger patty former!) Donate the things you don't need, and place rarely used items in storage.

Plan out your storage — Once you've pared your inventory down to the essentials, put them in places that make the most sense. Glassware and cups, for example, should be near the refrigerator or sink; utensils, spices and plates near the cooking area; mugs near the coffeemaker. You’ll not only save space, you’ll also save time.

Free up counter space — Nearly all appliances can be mounted under cabinets these days, thereby freeing up precious counter space. For example, consider installing an under-cabinet coffeemaker, microwave, toaster-oven and can opener, to name a few. There are also drawer-style microwave ovens and special fittings for cabinets that allow heavy stationary mixers to effortlessly swing down and out of the way when not in use.

Conquer your cabinets — Add vertical dividers in cabinetry to stack cookie sheets and cake pans. For lower cabinets, consider a lazy susan that will put everything within reach. Install small, inexpensive shelves to neatly organize the pantry. You can also free up valuable cabinet and drawer space by installing hooks for coffee mugs and utensils under cabinets.

Junk the junk drawer — Every kitchen has one—a "miscellaneous" catch-all drawer loaded with pencils, paper clips, scissors, super glue, corn cob holders and…well, you get the idea. Find a designated place for every item. And if you absolutely can’t live without the junk drawer, use small dividers to stop pencils, coupons and other gadgets from jumbling together.

Eliminate the paper trail — If your pile of takeout menus, recipes torn out of magazines and other such paper clutter from your kitchen has reached epic proportions, at least try to contain them. Sort them into categories and put them into file folders in a location that makes sense—for example, near your cookbooks.

As you organize your kitchen, think of other ways to eliminate clutter such as grouping items by how frequently you use them or swapping out your existing appliances with “smart appliances” that maximize interior space.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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Choosing the Best Backsplash

Choosing the backsplash of your modern Italian kitchen is a great way to infuse your unique tastes.  It is also an opportunity to create a focal point or play with the way the space appears.  For example, vertical backsplashes will make the kitchen appear larger and taller.  Marble, a classic choice, can be used to make your modern kitchen backsplash feel royal – especially with an uncommon counter-to-ceiling wall application. The only limit on your backsplash options is your imagination.  Wallpaper has resumed its popularity in the last few years and a simple coat of paint will never go out of style.  The challenge with both of these options is that they won’t protect the walls from spills and stains over time.

The following options are recommended because they are easy to clean and are perfect for complementing any modern Italian kitchen design:

Tile is the most popular backsplash choice.  It’s also the most overwhelming in terms of options since there are hundreds of styles.  Tile is available in a huge variety of sizes, colors, textures and shapes.  There are also many options within a specific tile size.  For example, there is an abundance of options for   subway tile.

When redesigning my own kitchen, I was overwhelmed with amount of options and photos available of tile backsplashes; all equally exquisite.  I recommend keeping it simple by choosing a tile that mimics the floor you have chosen.  The result will be a sense of uniformity and sleekness in tune with modern Italian kitchen design.

You can create a unique tile design by adding accent tiles made of metal or glass above the sink, stove or focal point of any wall with a backsplash.  A great way to highlight the character of your modern Italian kitchen and create a sense of continuity is to add a border approx. two-thirds the height of the backsplash.

Glass and stone mosaics are currently very popular.   They are perfect for a kitchen backsplash because they are impractical for most other kitchen surfaces.

The use of stone in particular is a great way to soften the edges of an industrial modern kitchen.  As you can see in the photo, the use of natural stone along the walls infuses an element of warmth into the modern kitchen.

Stainless steel is ideal for a very clean, modern look.  Stainless steel backsplashes are perfect for the kitchen because they are easy to keep clean and look especially beautiful in modern settings.  As an added bonus, they are eco-friendly.

The placement of a single sheet of stainless steel can create an element of sleekness and is practical for kitchen use.  There are also miniature stainless steel tiles available which add an industrial edge to the modern kitchen.

This post has been brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America, leaders in modern Italian kitchen cabinets , modern Italian sofas, and modern Italian home design. We’d love for you to connect with us on facebook and twitter for more tips on designing the home of your dreams!

SOFTEN THE EDGES     The look of this industrial modern kitchen is softened by designer Randy Weinstein with an ivory subway-tiled backsplash and contrasting rich wooden cabinetry around it. Four open shelves allow the backsplash more function by providing visible storage space, while adding a decorative quality with eclectic dishware and accessories.

Nothing is more eye-catching than a sparkling mosaic backsplash. Designer Linda Woodrum created this kitchen's focal point by combining reclaimed stained-glass tiles in gray, white and yellow to create a stunning, detailed backsplash against the entire back wall. The colorful glass tiles complement the dark wood cabinetry and the kitchen's overall urban edge, while also integrating a bold dose of color to match the golden-yellow work island.

Focus In    The first thing you notice upon entering HGTV Dream Home 2010's kitchen is the dramatic floor-to-ceiling backsplash in soothing hues of aqua and turquoise. Designer Linda Woodrum wanted to ensure that the backsplash was the star of the kitchen by keeping the cabinetry low and by using soft, subtle neutrals in the surrounding decor. Inlaid in recycled aluminum, the sleek glass tiles coordinate well with the contemporary stainless steel furnishings, while also lending a colorful and artistic element to the space.

WARM IT UP To add visual warmth to this urban kitchen, designer Tina Muller used tumbled natural stone along the walls for the backsplash. When paired with stainless steel appliances, white fusion granite countertops and dark-chocolate maple cabinetry, the backsplash instantly appears clean and contemporary.

UNIFY YOUR DESIGN    In this contemporary kitchen, designer Erinn Valencich takes the glossy blue-gray backsplash all around the room to create a unified design with elegant and romantic appeal. The mosaic glass border, with hues of brown and blue, provides a sufficient dose of color and pulls in the scheme from the adjacent dining room for a consistent look that appears subtle yet captivating.

Make it pop  This stunning gray backsplash makes a colorful statement against crisp white-lacquer cabinets and countertops. "The backsplash is so highly reflective that it looks wet and reflects so much light around the room," says designer Samantha Pynn. To further play up the backsplash, she coordinated the gray tiles with gray living room decor, such as the sofa and other accessories, for an open and cohesive look.


Kitchen Remodel Survival Tips

Perhaps you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen and now have the design plan, final budget and a licensed contractor.   But wait!  The renovation process won’t be easy, especially if you’ll be living in your home during the remodeling process.  Here are some steps you can take to minimize dust, stress and family quarrels:

  1. Mind over matter- Above all, explain to your family that the remodeling process may be stressful and you’ll need everyone’s cooperation, but that the end result will be well worth it.  You can expect a few bumps on the road including delays, unanticipated costs and decisions you hadn’t planned on having to make.  When you want to scream, take a deep breath and remember your end goal and vision of a new, fabulous kitchen.
  2. Create a substitute kitchen- When we gutted our kitchen, I set up a small kitchenette in our laundry room with a small toaster oven, mini fridge, microwave, George Foreman grill and essential cooking and dining supplies.  The substitute kitchen should be set up away from dust such as a finished basement or unused bedroom.
  3. Store and purchase necessary supplies- If you are replacing all of your cabinets, set aside enough time to pack all of your dishes, pots, pans, vases, linens, pantry items, art, anything on display, etc.  My husband and I started accumulating large boxes in advance of the ‘breaking ground’ date, packed on the weekends and stored everything in our garage during the renovation.

As an environmentalist, I never used paper plates or plastic utensils…until my kitchen remodel began.   Since you and your family must eat and you more than likely will not have a dishwasher set up during your kitchen renovation, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to use paper plates, styrofoam cups and bowls, and plastic utensils during that time.

  1. Eat out/Take out- Weather permitting, use your outdoor grill to prepare meals so you aren’t relegated to restaurants for most lunches and dinners.  If possible, place a cooler with ice on the back porch or deck to keep soft drinks cold and to avoid running out constantly for ice.  Plan on spending a larger portion of your disposable income on take-out meals and at dine-in restaurants than you normally spend.   Purchasing individual servings of frozen meals and healthy snacks like fruit, granola bars, cheese and crackers, etc.  will help defray costs if you will have access to a microwave during the renovation.
  2. Everything but the kitchen sink!  Instruct your contractor to remove your old sink last, so you have access to running water in a large sink up until the absolute last minute.  Often times, the delivery of cabinetry, flooring, tiles and other supplies can be delayed, so it’s important not to remove the kitchen sink too soon.
  3. Take cover- Place plastic sheeting over all appliances, unless they are being replaced, in order to minimize the dirt during the day.  This way, you’ll have access to them so you can resume meal preparation during the evenings. Cover the doorways with plastic sheeting to minimize the spread of dust to the rest of the house.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook. 


Tips for Storing Wine at Home

Lovers of fine furniture, like the beautiful Italian lines offered by Berloni America, are often also purveyors of fine wines. However, many times people do not realize the importance of proper wine storage and how it is properly done. There is no substitute for wine storage with proper wine temperature and the only way this can be achieved is through a wine cellar or wine room with a cooling unit. The easiest and quickest method for wine storage and wine cooling is to buy a wine cellar. Wine cellars can be found in stores or even online at affordable prices. A wine cellar offers not only a place to store as many bottles of wine as capacity will hold, but also a place to keep your wine cool and away from the sun light. These units can be built in any room in the house it does not have to be under ground just as long as it stays out of direct sunlight.

Once you've selected where you want the wine cellar you simply construct it or set it up. There is a growing trend where most wine cellars look more like large wine cabinets. These particular types of wine cellars can hold anywhere between 300-5,000 bottles, depending on the size you are looking for. Typically they just snap and seal together with ease or can even be purchased pre-built, but expect a higher shipping price for larger units.

Another way to store and preserve wine is by use of a cooling unit. Cooling units are affordable, about the size of a small air conditioner, and are easy to install into any room with little effort. You can install a wine-cooling unit into a wine cellar or into a wine room, depending on your size needs. Cooling units can cool 75 cubic ft. to 3,000 cubic ft. and higher.

Whether you use a cooling unit or a wine cellar, or the combination of both to achieve the perfect temperature and storage for your wine collection, it will add life to your wine and help you to store any amount for years to come.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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'Ciao' Down on Pasta

When it comes to pasta, there are many ways to ‘ciao’ down. Pasta comes in a variety of shapes, lengths and widths.  Most pasta is made from durum wheat semolina flour and water, and some has eggs.  You’ve probably seen a variety of colors which reflects ingredients such as light green from spinach or basil, or pink from tomatoes.  Tonight, I am pairing a fresh spinach salad with spinach and Chive linguini and stuffed cabbage.  It may sound like an odd combination, however my family loves pasta!   We eat it up to five times per week, often as a side dish.  I will sauté garlic in olive oil and toss it with the pasta add some Grana Padano parmesean cheese.

In the U.S., most restaurants offer angel hair, farfalle, fettuccini, gemelli, gnocchi (made from potatoes), lasagna, linguini, manicotti and spaghetti.  In Italy, diners are usually offered many more options than an American could possibly imagine.  Surprisingly, Italians accounted for 250 different pasta types and shapes at the end of the nineteenth century.  Today, that number has been reduced to approx. 55.

I can never eat enough pasta and enjoy finding and trying new varieties for my family.  When making new recipes, it is helpful to know which pasta types are ideal for the meal at hand, esp. in case one must substitute for the type of pasta specified by the recipe.

Pasta for Baked Casseroles- I prefer tubular shapes for baked dishes because the seasonings, cheese and ingredients seep into the pasta creating a flavorful bite.  Also, tubular shapes such as ziti holds up to longer baking times.  In my experience, mostaccioli, bombolotti and rigatoni are best size-wise.

Pasta in Sheets for Layered Dishes- Pasta types cut from larger sheets and divided into shapes used for baking pasta in the oven so that the layers fit the pan include lasagna, tagliatelle, pappardella, farfalle and cannelloni.  Like most Americans, I only use lasagna when it comes to layered pasta dishes, and love it!

Pasta for Soups- Smaller pasta shapes are ideal for soups so that they easily fit on a soup spoon along with other ingredients.  I’ve found that the following work best: sea shells, ditalini, elbows, orzo or acini de pepe.

The secret isn’t always in the sauce.  There are also ideal pasta types depending on the sauce.  Thin spaghetti is paired best with lighter sauces that use minimal oil such as fresh tomato sauce or seafood based sauces.  Fettucini and linguni are ideal for oil or cream based sauces.

If your favorite sauces are dairy-based or robusto, rich in flavor, choose a tubular shape like penne or shell-shapes like orecchiette.  Their ridged surface is ideal for trapping rich sauces inside and out; each bite will burst with flavor. The same holds true for ridged pasta which are best paired with heavier sauces that are very thick such as chunky meat, pesto or spicy sauces.

No matter what pasta type you choose, 'Chi mangia bene, vive bene' or He who eats well, lives well.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook. 


Tiny, but Never Insignificant - A Modern Approach to Apartment Kitchen Design

Life in an apartment or condo can be both comforting and cramped at times, but there’s nothing like having the freedom of expression in your own little piece of real estate. Modern apartment kitchen design offers the chance to open up the space in your apartment with simple lines, eye-popping colors, and amazing contemporary furnishings inspired by European designers. Using a more modern approach to apartment kitchen design may seem a little unusual for such a small space, yet it works well for most flats. In some cases, your apartment may be filled to the brink with mix and match pieces, and outdated kitchen looks. The kitchen is the center stage of your apartment, so this is the best place to get started with a redesign that will create added value, for entertaining or just everyday life.

Get started by determining how you like to use your apartment kitchen, and what needs to be improved. For many apartment dwellers, who have busy schedules, having conveniences like a beverage center, well-lit food prep areas, easy-care appliances, and comfortable seating areas are important. Starting with a drawn out idea of your contemporary kitchen will help you decide where to begin planning the kitchen of your dreams.

Kitchen cabinets and countertops are often a good place to start, when designing a modern kitchen space. Removing old cupboard doors and replacing them with sleek European cabinet doors and handles can give your apartment kitchen a brand new look very economically. Increase kitchen and pantry storage by adding extra interior shelves and special wall racks for storing contemporary dinnerware and cooking elements. Adding stainless steel or granite cabinet tops can improve the look and function of your kitchen, while giving it a modern Italian look for less.

In a small kitchen, having the ability to prepare meals and entertain guests are the elements of a modern lifestyle. More families are choosing to dine in or have guests over than ever before, so you’ll want to make your kitchen seem bigger than life with contemporary elements. Choose overhead lighting made from recycled glass pendants to illuminate your breakfast bar or kitchen island. Add a clever wine rack to the end of a cabinet to create a mini-bar. Create an instant café by adding a simple tray and your espresso machine to a table, for a modern Italian kitchen experience.

In the modern apartment kitchen, you’ll also want to make a statement by choosing contemporary art pieces, displayed on walls and surfaces. Use an oversized print to draw the eye to your modern dining room table and Italianate chairs. Hang a unique chandelier overhead, and use modern lighting in all the room corners to give the illusion of a larger dine-in kitchen. As often as possible, buy artwork from local sources to give your kitchen more charm.

The idea with a modern kitchen design is to create an environment where you can spend memorable time at home in your apartment, with friends or family. Contemporary design elements are very popular for apartments because they are simple to achieve more with less clutter. Using simple lines and arrangements, as well as light-enhancing colors, your apartment kitchen can provide you with years of enjoyment.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America—leaders in modern Italian kitchen remodeling.  We would love to connect with you on Facebook.


Contemporary Design Elements for an Organized Kitchen

A functional kitchen is an organized kitchen. A hot idea for this year’s contemporary kitchen design is the addition of new organization systems. By making the kitchen more functional, home owners can enjoy the freedom to use their kitchens knowing all dinnerware, cookware, and other kitchen elements are in the proper place. For a smaller kitchen, this can be a plus because it opens up the kitchen space for other purposes like entertaining and spending time with family. Some of the contemporary kitchen designs include organizational systems that fit neatly into kitchen drawers and cabinets. By using customized and adjustable organization trays, racks, and shelves; the kitchen is more convenient to use. Learn more about Berloni organization solutions for your contemporary home.

  • Drawer organization solutions. In the kitchen, drawers can quickly become overfilled with a variety of cooking tools and accessories. To get control of the clutter, it’s important to install drawer organizers that are right for each individual use. Choose from eco-friendly wood drawer organizers that are shaped to fit utensils and silverware. For deeper drawers, plate racks and adjustable organizers can create more space for plates and cookware.
  • Cabinet organization shelves and racks. As part of a kitchen upgrade, you may decide to make your cabinets and shelves more spacious with custom racks. Use them to hold plates, glasses, barware, pottery, and various types of cookware for fast access to the things you need to make each meal complete. Shelves can be built to suit any type of cabinet, providing an extra layer of storage and organization in your contemporary home.
  • Custom container organization. In order to keep foods, condiments and spices fresh, you may choose modern in-drawer storage solutions that use customized kitchen containers. These containers fit neatly into kitchen drawers, in cabinets, and on shelves where you need them. They are stackable and come in a variety of contemporary European inspired designs and colors. Use labels or special color combinations to maintain order in your kitchen.
  • Wall and pantry organization options. The pantry can be a good place for storing anything from food staples to extra cooking tools, therefore having access to organization can maximize this space in the kitchen. Organization solutions can include stainless steel and quality reclaimed wood racks built into cabinets or shelves that provide ample space for anything you need to stow away.

As part of our kitchen update, you can experience more by adding new kitchen drawers and cabinets that make the most of your space. Putting things within reach and ease of use is what makes the modern kitchen appealing to today’s savvy home owner.



Simple Ways to Save for the Kitchen of Your Dreams

Have you documented your 2012 goals?  If not, fear not: Statistics show that only 2% of Americans actually document their goals.  They do not realize that goals not written down are just dreams! If your goal is to remodel your kitchen in the New Year, here are some easy tips to cut spending so you can reallocate saved dollars and build the kitchen of your dreams.  These are just a few of many money-saving secrets I’ll reveal over the next few weeks:

Brown Bag It

You can cut your food budget by taking your lunch to work.  Instead, pack leftovers or buy pre-packaged meals in bulk at your warehouse club of choice.  The same goes for snacks: prepare them at home for as little as $.25 a serving instead of wasting a full dollar or more in the vending machine at your place of employment.

BONUS- You’ll cut calories too by selecting healthier ingredients when preparing your lunches.  If you choose to buy pre-packaged or prepared foods, you can easily see the nutritional information to select the healthiest option.  You’ll also save money by staying onsite, especially since gasoline prices are higher than ever.

If you truly value the socialization aspects of dining out for lunch with friends, colleagues, etc. consider a food-prepare and share program.  I’ve done this in the past and found that it’s best to:

  1. Select four friends or colleagues you enjoying catching up with.
  2. Once they’ve agreed to the program, determine each person’s preferred day to bring lunch each week.
  3. Set a date, preferably a Monday, on which to kick-start the new program.
  4. Gather at a community area at work or dine al fresco at a park convenient to everyone.
  5. Bon appetito!

You’ll save at least $3,000 annually- more than likely even more!  Here’s how: the average cost of a lunch meal is $10 - $15 including tax and tip while a brown-bagged lunch costs a couple of dollars.  By saving $12 every weekday for 52 weeks each year, you’ll save $3,120 per year!  Save even more with the food-prepare and share program since you’ll save by buying larger quantities only once per week.

Note: As long as none of the participating people have dietary restrictions- for health or religious reasons, this is a great way to save money and time because you’ll only have to prepare one large meal, one night, per week.

The same logic applies to your children’s lunches unless you receive assistance and/or the school’s cafeteria meals are subsidized.

Extra BONUS- If you deposit the average monthly savings of $240 for twelve months  into an interest bearing account  (assuming a 6.5% interest rate compounded daily), you’ll have almost $10,000 by the end of three years!

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.


A Latte More Than Just a Cup of Coffee

While many Americans visit their local Starbucks for coffee on a daily basis, not many realize that the entire establishment was first inspired by CEO Howard Schultz’s experiences in Italian cafes.  During a visit to Italy, Schultz discovered the sociological impact of coffee shops on the Italian way of life and pondered the possibility of providing the same experience to Americans whom he felt also would benefit from place other than work or home in which to savor coffee and socialize. Schultz was impressed with the manner in which the Baristas, or coffee bartenders, took pride in making and serving a variety of coffee concoctions.  He admired their connections with customers who customarily stand at a coffee bar sipping their Espresso before heading to work or during a mid-day break.   It is quite common to see Italians chatting while gathered at corner espresso bars similar to the proverbial American water-cooler conversations.

Starbucks would not exist without Italy, and Italians just might not exist without coffee.  Italians are coffee aficionados who will simply not visit an establishment that has bad coffee.  A typical Italian coffee menu looks nothing like the wide variety of cold and hot beverages served at Starbucks. reports that Italian coffee bars average sales are 230.3 cups a day of which:

  • 59.8% are sold as espressos
  • 13.5% are sold as cappuccinos
  • 12.3% are sold as correttos or Italian espresso that is modified by adding grappa, an Italian liqueur or brandy.
  • 9.9% are sold as macchiattos, which literally means 'marked' or 'stained' in Italian and in this case, is a beverage made with one shot of espresso and a teaspoon of milk, or the stain.
  • 4.5% are decaffeinated coffees

While nearly all Italians drink coffee every day, the National Coffee Association found in 2000 that 54% of the adult U.S. population drinks coffee daily (NCA Coffee Drinking Trends Survey, 2000).  This is another reason why the Italian lifespan is longer than the Americans’.  Many studies have shown that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and dementia.  Better yet, coffee drinkers have fewer cases of certain cancers and strokes .

When you visit Italy, be sure to stop and savor an Italian coffee.  The experience is so much more than simply sipping a beverage; it’s a treat for all five senses.  From the slow-paced streets of Frosinone, the birthplace of my grandmother, to the canal-facing cafes in Venezia, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a poorly-pressed cup of Italian coffee.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook. 


To Renovate or Not to Renovate?

Spring is often the best time of year for a home renovation due to pleasant weather.  If you are trying to decide whether or not to begin a home renovation project, consider the ROI (return on investment) for the room(s) you are considering renovating. For example, remodeling a kitchen tends to yield the greatest return without having to add square footage to your home.  The average ROI on a kitchen remodel is 80-100% so it’s an ideal room to renovate as you and your family can enjoy it in the short-term and you’ll realize the ROI in the long-term when you are ready to sell your home.

According to, the number one home update is a minor bathroom remodel. By updating a few, key elements such as the tub, tile areas, floor, vanity and fixtures, you will earn an average of 102% on your investment.   This is based on an average cost of $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures.

The primary reason that kitchens and bathrooms have higher rates of return than other areas of the home is because of the time and expense required to renovate them.  When prospective buyers tour an open house and see an outdated kitchen or bathroom, all they see is red: the money they’ll need to bring those rooms up to their standards.  When they walk through a home and love the kitchen and bathrooms, it’s easier for them to picture themselves living and enjoying those rooms with their families.  There is a compelling emotion to buy based on the perceived comfort and the fact that they won’t have to invest additional expenses beyond the costs of buying a new home and moving.

Many people assume that the replacement of a roof, siding or windows will garner great returns, however home buyers expect that all of them will be in decent shape without any need for repair or replacement.  The average ROI for these projects range from 40-50%.

If your overall goal is to increase the value of your home, consider a renovation of your kitchen and bathroom first, if needed, and then evaluate whether or not other rooms truly need to be remodeled.  If you decide that a kitchen renovation is necessary, consider exquisite cabinetry from Berloni America.   Their U.S. Customer Service and Distribution Center make the buying of Italian kitchens and furniture more affordable and accessible through a network of quality dealers around the country.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.  


Considerations for Modern Kitchen Designs

Let’s face it—kitchens take a beating. Children come home from school and throw their shoes on the floor as they run to get to the television set before one another; older children come home from high school or college and drop their bags on the table as they hit the refrigerator for something to eat. Adults come home from work and basically do what they want. The point is the kitchen is the hub of the home and where we all share and help each other with problems, and communicate with our family. Modern kitchen designs therefore need to be perfect, or at least perfect for the individual family as it is perhaps the most important room in the home. Contemporary kitchen designs should allow each family to relax in the kitchen, allow them to enjoy food here, and embrace one another’s company. Kitchen designs give the opportunity for each family to have their own family time, and whether you like your dream kitchen to be formal or informal, you may want to consider incorporating a comfy sofa or breakfast bar.

Designing the kitchen of our dreams can be a big project and getting this project correct will be important to the family setting. Berloni America offers some great modern Italian kitchen designs that can be tailored to your individual taste. If you would like to create and design your own kitchen, however, Berloni’s professional and helpful staff is willing to advise you on what is best for your kitchen no matter what size and shape you desire.

You may not need nor want full kitchen designs; instead, you may just want to buy some new accessories to brighten up your kitchen or perhaps add high-end kitchen cabinets. Whatever you need—whether big or small—Berloni America has an array of choices for you.

If you are environmentally sensitive, contemporary European kitchen designs now offer a green option, which allows you to look after the environment with simple solutions such as recycling, using eco-materials, energy efficient appliances and many more. This option of kitchen designs allow you to really make the best out of the natural resources your kitchen has on offer, making it a cheaper alternative in the long run.

Kitchen remodel projects can make an old home feel like a new one. Indeed, even the smallest transformations that are adapted to your individual needs within your kitchen will make a big difference to your family setting.

This post has been brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America, leaders in modern European kitchen cabinets. We’d love for you to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for more tips on designing your dream kitchen.

Photo credit: Eman